We have ways of making you talk…

Torture is the most correct description of what I did to the foremost section of the bottom plank on Idle Hands. Bow template

As I trimmed the template for the bow I began to realize how tough this was going to be. Plywood only likes to bend one way. This section is bending vertically, horizontally and twisting quite a bit. It is so harsh that I snapped the first piece of luan that I was using for a template. After messing around with it for most of a day I finally resorted to my backup plan, social media.

I put out a call for help on the Welsford Facebook page along with the wooden boat page to get some suggestions. As always the “folks that know” helped out a bunch. The most important thing was to keep the plywood from “curling up” fore to aft as you draw the plank in with clamps to it’s final resting place. Sounds easy…Torture 1

Torture 2

This is what I started with – the back side is secured with three two inch screws through the chine and two clamps on the upper stringer. The plywood naturally wants to curve inward towards bulkhead number one and that pushes the end away from the stem.

Torture 3

I started from the back working forward slowly tightening the clamps as I went. I also had to keep pushing the middle, around bulkhead one, out so it would not curl. A turn or two at a time on the upper clamps, and then adding screws on the bottom into the chine stringer, I slowly pulled the plywood into position. The plywood was creaking and groaning the whole time; at one time I did hear a sharp snap but a detailed check showed no damage. I am really glad I ordered the high end Okoume plywood. I don’t think that the A/B fir I used for the frames would be able to handle this level of abuse.

Torture 4

This is the final product. It’s a huge bend but it looks awesome. Somehow the left side “shrunk” as it was drawn into place. Eventually I will have to add a little wood so it will meet up with the rub strip when I install it.

Finally, I am up to date with this blog. Its been such a busy late winter/spring I have not kept up with this site. I feel like a kid who is behind on his homework… As I type this, the clamps are off the lower planks and I spent most of the day prepping the left hand side for the next plank. If I had to guess I will probably be hanging it around Sunday of next week but don’t hold me to it.




Idle Hands Workshop

When I last checked in I had received a pallet of Okoume plywood and was ready to start laying out the planks. I had no idea how tough that was going to be…

The plans call for you to make the planks in small sections and use butt blocks to join them, I want to use scarf joints to make full size planks. This makes it a little more complicated but to me it looks better. To get the long planks cut out I am going to need a template to draw the shape on the sheets of plywood. My plan was to use a 1/8″ luan template and my router to cut out the planks.

Template 1

I started by draping the sides with heavy masking paper and then cutting out the shape of the plank.

Template 2

This gave me a rough shape I could transfer to the luan.

luan template

Before too long I had templates made for the upper three planks. The lower plank was a little trickier. Because of the curves of the bottom board and the build stand I wasn’t able to use the luan to make a template. For this I had to spill it out.

Spilling 1

I joined together enough scrap wood to make eight foot long battens to follow the curve of the chine stringer and the top stringer. I then joined the two with cross pieces to lock the shape in. After that the battens were transferred to the plywood to be traced out. Yet another idea shamelessly stolen from the pages of Wooden Boat!

Spilling 2

From there it was a simple task to cut out the rough plank.

Spilling 3

This shape got me close but I still had it on and off of the boat half a dozen times or more to get the final fit. I really never got it perfect, just close enough. I am starting to believe in the gap filling powers of epoxy!

From back to front I glued the panels on using butt blocks, or tingles, to join them together.

Dittle My Skittle

This makes for a super strong joint but I do not like the idea of seeing these when the build is over. So for now the butt blocks will be below the floor only. I was able to finish 16 feet of planking on both side with no problem. There was a lot of fitting but nothing too difficult. That all changed when I got to the last four feet by the bow.

Bow template

This is a compound, complex pain in the ass. This one panel has held me up for three weeks now. I did beat it, but I have typed enough for today. I will let you know how this dragon was slayed next time.


Fear, Fox News, and the Texas 200

Cheryl and I decided this year that we were going to cancel our cable; not because we do not enjoy TV and movies but because of the constant barrage of fear and hate that comes from the 24 hour news outlets. Ebola this, terrorist that, on and on it goes until you are too scared to ever leave the house. Cheryl and I like to leave the house. From long unsupported motorcycle camping trips to kayaking and exploring the local area, we always try to push ourselves out of our comfort zone just so we stay adventurous. Having said that I am ashamed to admit that when I received an offer to attend the Texas 200 I was both scared and skeptical.

The Texas 200 is an expedition style event that starts at the border with Mexico and runs to just north of Corpus Christi Texas. It was intended to be a Texas version of the Water Tribes Everglades Challenge, an event that I have been watching from the safety of the couch for quite a while. The concept is simple – light boats with everything you need to survive loaded in them, the horn sounds and five days later (hopefully) you hit the finish line. The Everglades Challenge is organized as a race with several different classes, mandatory checkpoints, and a semi defined course. The 200 is more of a social event. There are five campsites selected and other than that you are on your own. Thin water, high winds, hot and humid, the 200 has a reputation for sucking.

Out of the blue one day my phone chirped alerting me I had a new message. The gist of the message was this:

Hi, I am Peter. You don’t know me but I know some folks you know and I would like to invite you to join me on my pathfinder for the Texas 200. I have sailed it several times and I like bringing new pathfinder builders out to learn about their new boat.

I spent the weekend debating on whether or not to accept this generous offer. The more I fought the decision the more I realized I had become stuck in the rut we had been working to avoid for so long. I was caught up in my own fears and failed to realized that this was a once in a lifetime offer made by a really nice guy that just wants to share the experience. That Monday I contacted Peter and told him I was in.


I’ll do my best to keep you update on this adventure, expect lots of posts about the 200 in the future.

For more info here are some good links: